The MLB second half with begin on Thursday with a Boston Red Sox – New York Yankees showdown.
— Tom Biersdorfer (@TomBiersdorfer) July 15, 2021
There are several things to follow now that the All-Star break is officially over.
Here are some of them.
3. Can The Yankees Make A Playoff Push?
The Yankees have been a bitter disappointment if we consider the huge expectations around the franchise.
Yet, both teams are currently ahead of the Yankees in the standings by a significant margin.
New York is 46-43, eight games behind the Red Sox and 6.5 behind the Rays.
However, there is optimism inside the organization that they have what it takes to make a push in the second half.
If it’s not the division, then the second Wild Card is at reach, as the Yankees are 4.5 games behind the Oakland A’s.
The Yankees would need reinforcements to make a serious run at the postseason, though.
They also need a bona fide center fielder and perhaps a corner outfielder, too.
Will they go shopping at the deadline?
2. When Will Eloy Jimenez And Luis Robert Return?
The Chicago White Sox are comfortably in first place of the American League Central division, with a 54-35 record and an eight-game lead over Cleveland.
The former tore his pectoral muscle in spring training, and the latter suffered a severe hip injury when the season was already underway.
Clearly, they haven’t needed them to dominate the division, but they will require their services come playoff time.
Jimenez is already on a rehab assignment, so he should be able to return around the end of the month.
Robert was cleared to increase the level of baseball activities and is further along, but should be able to return this year.
When Chicago has both of them in the lineup, plus Yasmani Grandal (also injured, but not expected before September) they will be very hard to beat for some unfortunate team that appears in their way come playoff time.
1. Will The Mariners And Angels Be In The Wild Card Race?
The Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels are both in the fringe of MLB contention.
Seattle is seven games away from the division-leading Houston Astros, and the Angels are nine games away.
If they have strong second halves, though, they could climb to contention for a Wild Card spot.
Do they have what it takes?
Seattle needs more offense, and LA more pitching and the return of its biggest star, Mike Trout.
Jarred Kelenic is back to his scorching hot ways in Triple-A, so he could be in play for a call back to Seattle relatively soon.
If he can be the player he was supposed to be as a prospect, or at least something close to it, the M’s can offer a few surprises in the postseason race.
The Angels have a chance as long as Shohei Ohtani remains healthy and Trout returns soon enough, but they need an elite arm or two.
Angels desperately trying to get Trout and Ohtani to the playoffs as they should
— Hunt (@HunterMathes5) July 13, 2021
Will they be buyers at the deadline?
The evolution of Seattle and Los Angeles’ competitive cycles is a fascinating MLB storyline to watch in the second half.